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Join us for SA’s Biggest Board Meeting – The Directors Event, as we focus on reigniting the spirit of ubuntu that will see the public and private sectors discuss and debate the shortest and most effective path to recovery.
The past two years have seen SA face many challenges as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. As we start adjusting to a new way of living with the virus, it’s also time to evaluate the areas of society and the economy that require rehabilitation and support, from both the public and private sectors.
The pandemic has highlighted the economic divide between the haves and have-nots, and shown up the issues that have been exacerbated. The post-Covid-19 period has also been characterised by supply shortages, further worsened by the Russia-Ukraine conflict that has seen commodity prices soar.
This requires a revision of initial recovery projections as the country strives to rebuild and advance with a greater ethos of social responsibility – an ethos that will not only affect SA’s people, but how we attract foreign investment, which thus will affect the country’s financial bottom line.
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As we finally enter the tail end of the Covid-19 pandemic in SA, the country needs to rebuild, particularly in the face of structural unemployment. President Cyril Ramaphosa, for the first time in his State of the Nation address, in February 2022, admitted that the government is not the creator of jobs in SA, but that business is the key enabler of employment.
The president is committed to reducing red tape to encourage investment and the development of the small business sector. This could be a significant silver lining for creating jobs if it materialises. But there remain challenges: skills shortages, an inadequate and struggling education system and a social welfare system that requires ongoing government funding. How can business step up to deliver real social impact as we embark on a path to post-Covid socioeconomic recovery?
Dr Azar Jammine
Chief Economist, Econometrix
CEO, Frost & Sullivan Africa
Researcher, SA Office of the Tricontinental Institute
“As we work to grow the economy and create jobs, we will expand support to poor families to ensure that no person in this country has to endure the pain and indignity of hunger.” – President Cyril Ramaphosa, State of the Nation Address 2022. Currently more than 40% of South Africans are affected by hunger, while approximately 2.3-million households reported child hunger in 2021.
SA’s natural resources are under threat as a result of climate change. Unpredictable and extreme weather patterns – floods, droughts and wildfires – are playing havoc with agricultural supply chains and are having an impact on food security in the country. The international Ukraine/Russia crisis has seen fuel prices in SA skyrocket, and the knock-on effect is hitting consumers hard. Simply getting a basic, staple meal on the table is less predictable for millions in our country.
In February, the president promised to finalise a comprehensive social compact to grow the economy, create jobs and combat hunger within 100 days. How do we mitigate climate change, manage water resources, execute a just energy transition and support agriculture to ensure food security so that no person goes to bed hungry, as per Ramaphosa’s commitment to SA?
Andy Du Plessis
Managing Director, FoodForward SA
Prof Imraan Valodia
Professor of Economics, Pro Vice-Chancellor:
Climate, Sustainability and Inequality, and
Director of the Southern Centre for Inequality
Prof Mark Swilling
Distinguished Professor of Sustainable Development
and Co-director, Centre for Sustainability Transitions
(CST), Faculty of Economic and Management
Sciences, University of Stellenbosch and Co-Director of the CST
Prof Francois Engelbrecht
Director and Professor of Climatology, Global Change Institute, University of the Witwatersrand
According to the World Bank, SA is the most unequal country in the world. It has one of the highest Gini coefficients: a measure of income distribution that highlights the stark gap between the country’s richest and poorest. It also points to a country with slow GDP growth, increased household debt, political polarisation and increased levels of poverty.
The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has only added to the country’s woes, with SA having the highest percentage of businesses expected to fall into arrears as a result of the lockdown. This has significantly exacerbated the prevailing socioeconomic crisis where access, for example, to quality healthcare and affordable broadband internet is not available to everyone.
What actions can be taken to improve the circumstances of those most affected by poverty? How should public and private sectors work together to remove SA from its classification in the “fragile five” of emerging economies?
Prof Murray Leibbrandt
NRF Chair in Poverty and Inequality Research and
Director, Southern Africa Labour and
Dev Research Unit, UCT
Practice Manager, Poverty and Equity Global Practice, World Bank
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